— Some councillors who voted against public consultation in 2019 said proposals failed due to lack of public consultation.
Despite around 100 Low Traffic Neighbourhoods implemented in London since the pandemic started, many South East Area councillors in Dublin aren’t yet ready for South Dublin Quietway even after years of debating just to put the proposals to public consultation.
The South Dublin Quietway was debated on Monday by the South East Area Committee of Dublin City Council after Cllr Carolyn Moore (Green Party) requested an update on the quietway.
A number of local councillors who voted against the early public consultation on the route in 2018 and/or 2019 said that the proposals failed due to lack of public consultation. This is an echo of them falsely voting against the public consultation and saying it was because of the lack of public consultation.
Low Traffic Neighbourhoods use some of the same measures as higher-quality quietways, including making some residential streets and roads access-only for motorists while allowing continued through access for walking and cycling.
Other possible measures include crossings of large routes and creating openings in walls to allow for greater walking and cycling access. Cycle paths are rarely used as part of such projects and usually only where routes cross larger roads.
Low Traffic Neighbourhoods in London have animated a vocal minority of objectors, but a YouGov poll found positive views on the measures are three times higher than negative ones, and around 100 have now been implemented in London since the COVID-19 pandemic started.
The Mayor of London has also just been re-elected even after his opponents tried to make the removal of Low Traffic Neighbourhoods an election issue, despite the measures being under the control of local councils and not the Mayor.
In Dublin, mini-Low Traffic Neighbourhoods have been implemented in both an area of Drumcondra and in Grangegorman — but won wider public support when residents witnessed the benefits from more children walking and cycling to school to generally the areas being more pleasant without rat running traffic.
On Monday, Cllr Moore said a written reply from officials said that the council would engage with residents on South Dublin Quietway proposals if councillors agree to it.
Cllr Moore said: “Last council term there was a proposal to bring in a South Dublin Quietway and the committe at that time, in 2019, voted against putting that plan to public consultation.”
“The council’s transport department considers this scheme to be beneficial to the community… we’re in a new term, a new committee, and arguably a new attitude towards walking and cycling by this council and by the current Government to the provision of walking and cycling infrastructure… on that basis, I think it’s appropriate to reopen the discussion,” said Cllr Moore.
Cllr Mary Freehill (Labour) who voted against public consultation for the proposals twice claims planning work on project previously done “under the radar”. She said that it was contentious and that councillors had clearly voted it down before. She said: “It’s far too vague, it’s everything and nothing and could turn into something”.
Cllr Mannix Flynn (independent) said that in principle that there is value in the proposals and that councillors could back “with the consent of the community”.
Cllr Claire Byrne (Green Party) took issue with Cllr Flynn making out he supports cycling while taking a High Court case against the Strand Road Cycle Route trial. This prompted anger from Cllr Flynn.
Cllr Byrne said: “As one of the three councillors who supported the quietway a couple of years ago, I’d like to support Carolyn in re-raising this issue. Yes, it could have been handled better but there was an awful amount of misinformation that was deliberately distributed at the time, and a lot of fearmongering.”
TIMELINE / READ MORE:
- 2016: “Neighborhood greenway” could link Kimmage to Donnybrook
- 2017: First walking and cycling Quietway for Dublin hit by misinformation and legal threats
- 2018: Councillors vote against South Dublin Quietway
- 2018: Why did some Dublin councillors vote against a cycle route?
- 2019: “Triumph for rat-runners” as Cllrs vote against South Dublin Quietway consultation for second time
Lord Mayor Cllr Hazel Chu (Green Party) said that “It seems every cycle route is contentious. Just so you know, (former) councillors Paddy Smyth and Patrick Costello were the proposers. I really would like that if people are not here to defend themselves that we do not say they did anything wrong in that way that they had proposed it.”
Councillor Paddy Smyth left the council to focus on being a doctor and Patrick Costello, Cllr Chu’s husband, was elected as a TD for the area.
“I know how contentious that cycle route was, we got mail directly to our house calling us all sorts of things in relation to that cycle route,” she said.
Cllr Chu said: “I think there’s an opportunity here, we are already looking at a different (traffic) management plan for Belmont Avenue at the moment. That was one of the ways the cycle route was to happen, so, why don’t we take the whole way traffic is happening in the South East Area and look at how we can propose a quietway?”
Cllr Paddy McCartan (Fine Gael) said: “In my three years as the chair of the area committee I don’t think there was as a contentious issue.” He said that he agreed with Cllr Freehill that the proposal was too vague to support.
Cllr Dermot Lacey (Labour) said that there was a number of issues with the proposals — without refering to any one location along the route, he said one issue was security as people felt that the route was “exposing back gardens”, and that the second issue was Marlborough Road “as it simply didn’t exist and we were going to do something with the traffic without ever explaining that”.
Despite campaigners highlighting local and international examples of traffic evaporation, Cllr Lacey has previously dismissed the evidence.
He said he wanted to look at four parallel roads together and that he could see himself voting for it. He said he agreed with Cllr Chu that a more “holistic” look was needed.
Cllr Lacey said that last time around the proposals were abandoned because not enough work was done on it. However, the majority of councillors actually voted against public consultation and there was no plan to immediately implement the proposals.
Cllr James Geoghegan (Fine Gael), who was not on the council when the issue was previously active, looked for a presentation on the previous proposals.
Cllr Anne Feeney (Fine Gael) then went onto say that the proposals failed because how it was managed — Cllr Feeney also voted against public consultation in 2019. This contrasts to when she voted for public consultation in 2018 she said: “On the bases of strong demands for greater public consultation, I’ll be supporting the approval of this spend alone to allow people to have their say.”
She asked that Cllr Moore defer the motion until problems along the route was looked at.
Cllr Freehill said that there were “technical issues” such as what she claimed as an unfixable level between streets where opening in a wall was proposed. She said it should be deferred until councillors know where they stand with BusConnects.
Cllr Claire O’Connor (Fianna Fáil) claimed that the proposals “did not go ahead because a feasibility study at the outset that said that this would not work” — this is not the case with the developed proposals which were developed further from the original concept.
Cllr O’Connor also said that there was “a lack of public consultation” and that “people lives were being changed without public consultation” — Cllr O’Connor also voted against public consultation, both in 2018 and again in 2019, and there was no plan to proceed with the proposals without consultation.
The motion was noted and councillors asked for a presentation on the proposals at a future council meeting.
WATCH: South Dublin Quietway debated at South East Area Committee on Monday 10th May 2021:
CORRECTION: The quote from Cllr Paddy McCartan was originally wrong attributed to a former councillor — IrishCycle.com apologies for this error and any confusion caused.